IT IS NOW feared that as many as 16 countries could be affected by the horse meat scandal as French ministers hold emergency talks later today.
It comes as seven French supermarket chains have now withdrawn frozen beef meals made by Findus and the French manufacturer Comigel following the discovery that some frozen foods sold in Europe contained horse meat.
The controversy began in Ireland last month when officials at the Food Safety Authority here confirmed that they had found as much as 30 per cent equine DNA in frozen beef burgers sold in some supermarkets.
The scandal widened last week when following tests Findus confirmed that 100 per cent horse meat was found in some of its frozen beef lasagne sold in the UK and in Ireland.
Swedish Food company Findus tested 18 of its frozen beef lasagne products from its French supplier Comigel and found 11 meals containing between 60 per cent and 100 per cent horsemeat.
The products have subsequently been removed from supermarkets and consumers have been urged not to eat them if they have already bought them.
It is now widely suspected the criminal fraud may be behind the scandal with Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney saying last week that “somebody is selling rogue product, and somebody knows about it”.
As French officials investigate potential criminal fraud food safety officials in Romania have now started examining paperwork at an abattoir which may be the source of at least one contamination.
BBC News explains that an initial investigation in France has found that Poujol, a French firm, bought frozen meat from a Cypriot trader who had in turn received it from a Dutch food trader who had purchased the meat from two Romanian slaughterhouses.
Ireland, the UK, France, Sweden and a further 11 EU countries could be affected by the widening scandal with questions being raised about the complex nature of supply chains in the food industry, BBC News says.